New Year’s Day 2023

“The Music Lesson”
Johannes Vermeer, 1662-65

One way I thought to greet this new year was to reread my journal entries over 2022. That would show where and what my struggles had been, what I learned, what the highs and lows were and what the delivered message to me has been.

Like people all round the neighborhood of planet earth, we socialized less and stayed home more than we would have done had 2022 not been one more year-of-the-plague.

However, since Jerry and I are intellectuals, our most telling adventures tend to occur in the mind. So another year spent mostly confined to our home offices didn’t change our lives very much outwardly.  

However, did I mention that my formerly titled Confessions of A Young Philosopher, underwent a name change in the year 2022? Here’s how that happened. Hoping to find the repressed source of my neuropathy, I had undertaken a deep dig – like an archeological dig – into the dark depths of my psyche. If only I could find that source — no matter how horrible it might appear to a lay person — perhaps some skilled psychotherapist could cure me! No more periodic trips to California for treatments! What buried hatreds, resentments, repressions and displacements would I find underlying my neuropathy? I felt really hopeful.

So I checked all around the shadowed corners, searchlight in hand (so to speak) and found … nothing! For a fact, I am pretty experienced with “life reviews,” never having seen any reason to wait till I am clinically dead (as revived cardiac patients and other revenants report) to have one. Consequently, if I found nothing-but-nothing in the way of a repressed psychological cause for my neuropathy, it’s pretty likely that the blankety blank disability was physical after all! Over breakfast, I told Jerry of my disappointment.  

“I guess I’m a very superficial person,” I sighed. “There’s nothing hidden in the depths. What you see is what you get!”

“No,” Jerry replied. “That’s not true. You’re not superficial. You’re deep. Only there’s nothing hidden. You’ve got unhidden depths.”

“Hey! That sounds like a title!” And that’s what it became, with the former title now moved over to occupy the place of subtitle, like so: 

Unhidden Depths:

Confessions of a Young Philosopher.

A writer’s life is composed of words. But the words are thick. They designate realities of experience.

What else went on in the course of the past year? Quite a lot, but right now one other change stands out for me. I hesitate to mention it, since a lot of people might be offended. I am, by birth and upbringing, a New Yorker and I can tell you that no New Yorker talks this way.

What I’m discerning, turning the journal pages of 2022 and skimming the entries – sometimes despondent or frustrated, occasionally pleased by some human encounter, or suspense-filled by a summons I feel guided to follow – is a noticeable … how to say this without apology … rapprochement with God. My connection with God feels more intimate, natural, and accessible.

If in years past I’d heard anyone talk this way, I don’t know what I’d feel.   My default inclination is to take people at their word. So I’d either be (1) intensely curious to know how that person had found such a key and how I could get my hands on it as well, or else (2) envious, or (3) ready to dismiss it as a psychological deformity. I guess my reaction would depend on my assessment of the person reporting the claim.  

So how do I assess myself in the present case? What I notice, when I pay attention, is a feeling more blessed, more safe and more put-together than I’ve ever felt before. Beneath the storm clouds, above the choppy waves, as I row along there appears – as if expressing a truth back of all of it – 

this unquenchable joy.

About Abigail

Abigail Rosenthal is Professor Emerita of Philosophy, Brooklyn College of CUNY. She is the author of A Good Look at Evil, a Pulitzer Prize nominee, now available in an expanded, revised second edition and as an audiobook. Its thesis is that good people try to live out their stories while evil people aim to mess up good people’s stories. Her next book, Confessions of a Young Philosopher, forthcoming and illustrated, provides multiple illustrations from her own life. She writes a weekly column for her blog, “Dear Abbie: The Non-Advice Column” ( where she explains why women's lives are highly interesting. She’s the editor of the posthumously published Consolations of Philosophy: Hobbes’s Secret; Spinoza’s Way by her father, Henry M. Rosenthal. Some of her articles can be accessed at . She is married to Jerry L. Martin, also a philosopher. They live in Bucks County, Pennsylvania.
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6 Responses to New Year’s Day 2023

  1. Abigail says:

    Thanks for your question. Peterson is a man on his own journey. His personal courage is unusual.

  2. broonov says:

    Abigail, have you considered looking at Jordan Peterson’s journey?

  3. Abigail says:

    It’s fun to hear from you Ken. Thanks for the Eureka!

  4. Ken Kaplan says:

    Eureka! It sounds like you’ve arrived, Abigail. Namaste!

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